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Pain Management

Pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways is defined as an unpleasant sensory Sensory Neurons which conduct nerve impulses to the central nervous system. Nervous System: Histology and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways is a subjective experience. Acute pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways lasts < 3 months and typically has a specific, identifiable cause. Chronic pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways lasts > 3 months and may exist in the absence of tissue damage or after healing would have been expected to occur. Pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways management involves a combination of addressing underlying causes and using a systematic approach tailored to the clinical scenario.

Last updated: Jun 1, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Definitions and Physiology

Definitions

  • Nociception Nociception Sensing of noxious mechanical, thermal or chemical stimuli by nociceptors. It is the sensory component of visceral and tissue pain (nociceptive pain). Pain: Types and Pathways: process through which peripheral receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors transmit information about current (or potential) tissue damage centrally as pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways
  • Nociceptor Nociceptor Peripheral afferent neurons which are sensitive to injuries or pain, usually caused by extreme thermal exposures, mechanical forces, or other noxious stimuli. Their cell bodies reside in the dorsal root ganglia. Their peripheral terminals (nerve endings) innervate target tissues and transduce noxious stimuli via axons to the central nervous system. Pain: Types and Pathways: receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors in end-organ that detects biochemical changes associated with current or potential tissue damage
  • Nociceptive pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways: pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways caused by actual or threatened damage to non-neural tissue
  • Neuropathic pain Neuropathic pain Caused by lesion or disease affecting the nervous system (PNS or CNS). Pain: Types and Pathways: pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways caused by pathology in the somatosensory nervous system Nervous system The nervous system is a small and complex system that consists of an intricate network of neural cells (or neurons) and even more glial cells (for support and insulation). It is divided according to its anatomical components as well as its functional characteristics. The brain and spinal cord are referred to as the central nervous system, and the branches of nerves from these structures are referred to as the peripheral nervous system. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification
  • Central sensitization Central sensitization Increased responsiveness of nociceptive neurons in the central nervous system to normal or subthreshold input. Pain: Types and Pathways: increased responsiveness of nociceptive neurons Neurons The basic cellular units of nervous tissue. Each neuron consists of a body, an axon, and dendrites. Their purpose is to receive, conduct, and transmit impulses in the nervous system. Nervous System: Histology in the central nervous system Central nervous system The main information-processing organs of the nervous system, consisting of the brain, spinal cord, and meninges. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification to normal or subthreshold input
    • Allodynia: pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways due to a stimulus that does not typically provoke pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways
    • Hyperalgesia Hyperalgesia An increased sensation of pain or discomfort produced by minimally noxious stimuli due to damage to soft tissue containing nociceptors or injury to a peripheral nerve. Pain: Types and Pathways/hyperpathia: heightened response to a typically painful stimuli

Physiology

  • Complex bidirectional process with phases: transduction Transduction The transfer of bacterial DNA by phages from an infected bacterium to another bacterium. This also refers to the transfer of genes into eukaryotic cells by viruses. This naturally occurring process is routinely employed as a gene transfer technique. Bacteriology → transmission → modulation → central perception Perception The process by which the nature and meaning of sensory stimuli are recognized and interpreted. Psychiatric Assessment
  • Peripheral nerves Peripheral Nerves The nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, including the autonomic, cranial, and spinal nerves. Peripheral nerves contain non-neuronal cells and connective tissue as well as axons. The connective tissue layers include, from the outside to the inside, the epineurium, the perineurium, and the endoneurium. Nervous System: Histology, both motor Motor Neurons which send impulses peripherally to activate muscles or secretory cells. Nervous System: Histology and sensory Sensory Neurons which conduct nerve impulses to the central nervous system. Nervous System: Histology, are grouped by size and myelination. 
  • Pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways is experienced in 2 phases:
    1. First phase is mediated by the fast-conducting A-delta fibers, associated with an initial extremely sharp pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways.
    2. Second phase is mediated by C fibers, associated with a more prolonged and a less intense feeling of pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways.
  • Type-A fibers: large and myelinated Myelinated Internuclear Ophthalmoplegia, thus fast conducting
    • A alpha:
      • Primary receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors of the muscle spindle and Golgi tendon organ
    • A beta: 
      • Largest-diameter afferent Afferent Neurons which conduct nerve impulses to the central nervous system. Nervous System: Histology axon
      • Secondary receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors of the muscle spindle, contribute to cutaneous mechanoreceptors
      • Perceive light touch Light touch Neurological Examination and/or moving stimuli
    • A delta: 
    • A gamma: 
      • Motor Motor Neurons which send impulses peripherally to activate muscles or secretory cells. Nervous System: Histology neurons Neurons The basic cellular units of nervous tissue. Each neuron consists of a body, an axon, and dendrites. Their purpose is to receive, conduct, and transmit impulses in the nervous system. Nervous System: Histology that control the intrinsic activation of the muscle spindle
  • Type-B fibers:
  • Type-C fibers:
    • Unmyelinated nociceptor Nociceptor Peripheral afferent neurons which are sensitive to injuries or pain, usually caused by extreme thermal exposures, mechanical forces, or other noxious stimuli. Their cell bodies reside in the dorsal root ganglia. Their peripheral terminals (nerve endings) innervate target tissues and transduce noxious stimuli via axons to the central nervous system. Pain: Types and Pathways slow fibers (conduct at a rate of approximately 2 m/s)
    • Respond to combinations of thermal, mechanical, and chemical stimuli
Processes that make up nociception

The 4 processes that make up nociception Nociception Sensing of noxious mechanical, thermal or chemical stimuli by nociceptors. It is the sensory component of visceral and tissue pain (nociceptive pain). Pain: Types and Pathways:
transduction Transduction The transfer of bacterial DNA by phages from an infected bacterium to another bacterium. This also refers to the transfer of genes into eukaryotic cells by viruses. This naturally occurring process is routinely employed as a gene transfer technique. Bacteriology, transmission, modulation, and perception Perception The process by which the nature and meaning of sensory stimuli are recognized and interpreted. Psychiatric Assessment

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Types of Pain

Types of pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways according to duration
Type Duration Characteristic
Acute pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways < 3 months
  • Usually related to tissue damage
  • Improves with resolution of injury
  • Associated with autonomic protective reflexes (e.g., muscle spasm or “splinting”)
Chronic pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways > 3 months
  • Pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways that extends beyond expected period of healing
  • Pathology usually insufficient to explain the presence or extent of the pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways
  • Disrupts sleep Sleep A readily reversible suspension of sensorimotor interaction with the environment, usually associated with recumbency and immobility. Physiology of Sleep, daily activities, and psychosocial function
Types of pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways according to quality Quality Activities and programs intended to assure or improve the quality of care in either a defined medical setting or a program. The concept includes the assessment or evaluation of the quality of care; identification of problems or shortcomings in the delivery of care; designing activities to overcome these deficiencies; and follow-up monitoring to ensure effectiveness of corrective steps. Quality Measurement and Improvement
Nociceptive pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways Typically acute
  • The result of direct stimulation of nociceptors Nociceptors Peripheral afferent neurons which are sensitive to injuries or pain, usually caused by extreme thermal exposures, mechanical forces, or other noxious stimuli. Their cell bodies reside in the dorsal root ganglia. Their peripheral terminals (nerve endings) innervate target tissues and transduce noxious stimuli via axons to the central nervous system. Pain: Types and Pathways and normal neural signaling to the brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification
  • May be due to tissue damage or threat of potential damage at nociceptor Nociceptor Peripheral afferent neurons which are sensitive to injuries or pain, usually caused by extreme thermal exposures, mechanical forces, or other noxious stimuli. Their cell bodies reside in the dorsal root ganglia. Their peripheral terminals (nerve endings) innervate target tissues and transduce noxious stimuli via axons to the central nervous system. Pain: Types and Pathways
  • Characteristics vary based on nociceptor Nociceptor Peripheral afferent neurons which are sensitive to injuries or pain, usually caused by extreme thermal exposures, mechanical forces, or other noxious stimuli. Their cell bodies reside in the dorsal root ganglia. Their peripheral terminals (nerve endings) innervate target tissues and transduce noxious stimuli via axons to the central nervous system. Pain: Types and Pathways type/location
  • Somatic: easy to localize, perceived by nociceptors Nociceptors Peripheral afferent neurons which are sensitive to injuries or pain, usually caused by extreme thermal exposures, mechanical forces, or other noxious stimuli. Their cell bodies reside in the dorsal root ganglia. Their peripheral terminals (nerve endings) innervate target tissues and transduce noxious stimuli via axons to the central nervous system. Pain: Types and Pathways located on the skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions or in musculoskeletal tissues (e.g., fracture Fracture A fracture is a disruption of the cortex of any bone and periosteum and is commonly due to mechanical stress after an injury or accident. Open fractures due to trauma can be a medical emergency. Fractures are frequently associated with automobile accidents, workplace injuries, and trauma. Overview of Bone Fractures, burns Burns A burn is a type of injury to the skin and deeper tissues caused by exposure to heat, electricity, chemicals, friction, or radiation. Burns are classified according to their depth as superficial (1st-degree), partial-thickness (2nd-degree), full-thickness (3rd-degree), and 4th-degree burns. Burns)
  • Visceral: poorly localized, perceived by nociceptors Nociceptors Peripheral afferent neurons which are sensitive to injuries or pain, usually caused by extreme thermal exposures, mechanical forces, or other noxious stimuli. Their cell bodies reside in the dorsal root ganglia. Their peripheral terminals (nerve endings) innervate target tissues and transduce noxious stimuli via axons to the central nervous system. Pain: Types and Pathways found in organ systems (e.g., pancreatitis Pancreatitis Inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis is classified as acute unless there are computed tomographic or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographic findings of chronic pancreatitis. The two most common forms of acute pancreatitis are alcoholic pancreatitis and gallstone pancreatitis. Acute Pancreatitis, myocardial infarction Myocardial infarction MI is ischemia and death of an area of myocardial tissue due to insufficient blood flow and oxygenation, usually from thrombus formation on a ruptured atherosclerotic plaque in the epicardial arteries. Clinical presentation is most commonly with chest pain, but women and patients with diabetes may have atypical symptoms. Myocardial Infarction)
Neuropathic pain Neuropathic pain Caused by lesion or disease affecting the nervous system (PNS or CNS). Pain: Types and Pathways Variable Variable Variables represent information about something that can change. The design of the measurement scales, or of the methods for obtaining information, will determine the data gathered and the characteristics of that data. As a result, a variable can be qualitative or quantitative, and may be further classified into subgroups. Types of Variables, often chronic
  • Due to nerve damage or aberrant pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways processing
  • Described as burning, tingling Tingling Posterior Cord Syndrome, or shock-like, distributed along the path of nerves or nerve roots
  • Usually presents with hyperpathia, allodynia, and sensory Sensory Neurons which conduct nerve impulses to the central nervous system. Nervous System: Histology deficit
  • Examples: pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways associated with herpetic neuralgia, sciatica, neoplasias, diabetic neuropathy Diabetic neuropathy Peripheral, autonomic, and cranial nerve disorders that are associated with diabetes mellitus. These conditions usually result from diabetic microvascular injury involving small blood vessels that supply nerves (vasa nervorum). Relatively common conditions which may be associated with diabetic neuropathy include third nerve palsy; mononeuropathy; mononeuropathy multiplex; diabetic amyotrophy; a painful polyneuropathy; autonomic neuropathy; and thoracoabdominal neuropathy. Chronic Diabetic Complications, phantom pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, etc ETC The electron transport chain (ETC) sends electrons through a series of proteins, which generate an electrochemical proton gradient that produces energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Electron Transport Chain (ETC).
Nociplastic pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways (recently defined) Usually chronic or intermittent
  • Altered nociception Nociception Sensing of noxious mechanical, thermal or chemical stimuli by nociceptors. It is the sensory component of visceral and tissue pain (nociceptive pain). Pain: Types and Pathways despite no clear evidence of actual or threatened tissue damage causing the activation of peripheral nociceptors Nociceptors Peripheral afferent neurons which are sensitive to injuries or pain, usually caused by extreme thermal exposures, mechanical forces, or other noxious stimuli. Their cell bodies reside in the dorsal root ganglia. Their peripheral terminals (nerve endings) innervate target tissues and transduce noxious stimuli via axons to the central nervous system. Pain: Types and Pathways or evidence for disease or lesion of the somatosensory system causing the pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways
  • Examples: fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome characterized by widespread body pain, chronic fatigue, mood disturbance, and cognitive disturbance. It also presents with other comorbid symptoms such as migraine headaches, depression, sleep disturbance, and irritable bowel syndrome. Fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic regional neuropathic pain condition characterized by excruciating pain (out of proportion to apparent tissue damage or inciting trauma), paresthesia, allodynia, temperature abnormalities, skin discoloration, edema, reduced range of motion, and bone demineralization. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), chronic low back pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, irritable bowel syndrome Irritable bowel syndrome Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disease characterized by chronic abdominal pain and altered bowel habits without an identifiable organic cause. The etiology and pathophysiology of this disease are not well understood, and there are many factors that may contribute. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, bladder Bladder A musculomembranous sac along the urinary tract. Urine flows from the kidneys into the bladder via the ureters, and is held there until urination. Pyelonephritis and Perinephric Abscess pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways syndrome

Management of Pain

General principles

  • Must be tailored to each patient’s circumstances, perspective, and physiologic condition
  • Requires a systematic assessment and regular Regular Insulin reassessments:
    • Type: throbbing, cramping, burning, stabbing, etc ETC The electron transport chain (ETC) sends electrons through a series of proteins, which generate an electrochemical proton gradient that produces energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Electron Transport Chain (ETC).
    • Periodicity: continuous, with or without exacerbations or incident
    • Location
    • Intensity (may be determined with a visual analog scale Scale Dermatologic Examination)
    • Modifying factors
    • Effects of treatments
    • Functional impact
    • Impact on patient
  • Whenever possible, use targeted, disease-specific treatment.
  • Incorporate non-pharmacologic adjuncts and maximize the use of non-opioid analgesics before the use of opioids Opioids Opiates are drugs that are derived from the sap of the opium poppy. Opiates have been used since antiquity for the relief of acute severe pain. Opioids are synthetic opiates with properties that are substantially similar to those of opiates. Opioid Analgesics
  • If an opioid Opioid Compounds with activity like opiate alkaloids, acting at opioid receptors. Properties include induction of analgesia or narcosis. Constipation is prescribed for pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways:
    • Use short-acting agents only
    • Use for the shortest duration possible 
    • Screen for risk of opiate misuse
    • Utilize local prescription monitoring program
    • Counsel patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship on safe storage and disposal

Management of chronic pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways

The following principles are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a basis for the treatment of chronic pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways:

  • “By the clock”: Analgesics should be given at regular intervals. The frequency depends on whether it is a long- or short-acting preparation. 
  • “By the mouth”: If possible, drugs should be administered orally. If the oral route is not feasible, the least invasive route should be considered (e.g., sublingual or subcutaneous before IV). 
  • “By the ladder”: Stick to the 3-step system (see figure below). Drug selection should be appropriate to the severity of the pain. With severe pain, it may be appropriate to begin at the top of the ladder with a strong opioid. It is usually not necessary to step down unless the cause of pain is believed to have resolved. 
  • “By the individual with attention to details”: Dosing of pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways medication should be adapted to the individual, as every patient responds differently. To optimize adherence and outcomes, the patient and those who care for them should be provided with a written program.
Analgesic ladder for cancer pain diagram with steps

Analgesic ladder for cancer pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways

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Most commonly used substances

  • Non-opioid medications
    • Acetaminophen Acetaminophen Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter nonopioid analgesic and antipyretic medication and the most commonly used analgesic worldwide. Despite the widespread use of acetaminophen, its mechanism of action is not entirely understood. Acetaminophen
    • Aspirin Aspirin The prototypical analgesic used in the treatment of mild to moderate pain. It has anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties and acts as an inhibitor of cyclooxygenase which results in the inhibition of the biosynthesis of prostaglandins. Aspirin also inhibits platelet aggregation and is used in the prevention of arterial and venous thrombosis. Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Weak opioids Opioids Opiates are drugs that are derived from the sap of the opium poppy. Opiates have been used since antiquity for the relief of acute severe pain. Opioids are synthetic opiates with properties that are substantially similar to those of opiates. Opioid Analgesics
    • Codeine Codeine An opioid analgesic related to morphine but with less potent analgesic properties and mild sedative effects. It also acts centrally to suppress cough. Opioid Analgesics 
    • Tilidine
    • Dihydrocodeine 
    • Tramadol Tramadol A narcotic analgesic proposed for severe pain. It may be habituating. Opioid Analgesics (depending on the dose, tramadol Tramadol A narcotic analgesic proposed for severe pain. It may be habituating. Opioid Analgesics can also behave as a strong opioid Opioid Compounds with activity like opiate alkaloids, acting at opioid receptors. Properties include induction of analgesia or narcosis. Constipation)
  • Strong opioids Opioids Opiates are drugs that are derived from the sap of the opium poppy. Opiates have been used since antiquity for the relief of acute severe pain. Opioids are synthetic opiates with properties that are substantially similar to those of opiates. Opioid Analgesics 
    • Pethidine 
    • Morphine Morphine The principal alkaloid in opium and the prototype opiate analgesic and narcotic. Morphine has widespread effects in the central nervous system and on smooth muscle. Opioid Analgesics 
    • Oxycodone Oxycodone A semisynthetic derivative of codeine. Opioid Analgesics 
    • Methadone Methadone A synthetic opioid that is used as the hydrochloride. It is an opioid analgesic that is primarily a mu-opioid agonist. Opioid Analgesics
    • Hydromorphone Hydromorphone An opioid analgesic made from morphine and used mainly as an analgesic. It has a shorter duration of action than morphine. Opioid Analgesics 
    • Buprenorphine Buprenorphine A derivative of the opioid alkaloid thebaine that is a more potent and longer lasting analgesic than morphine. It appears to act as a partial agonist at mu and kappa opioid receptors and as an antagonist at delta receptors. The lack of delta-agonist activity has been suggested to account for the observation that buprenorphine tolerance may not develop with chronic use. Opioid Analgesics
    • Fentanyl Fentanyl A potent narcotic analgesic, abuse of which leads to habituation or addiction. It is primarily a mu-opioid agonist. Fentanyl is also used as an adjunct to general anesthetics, and as an anesthetic for induction and maintenance. Opioid Analgesics 
  • Adjuvant Adjuvant Substances that augment, stimulate, activate, potentiate, or modulate the immune response at either the cellular or humoral level. The classical agents (freund’s adjuvant, bcg, corynebacterium parvum, et al.) contain bacterial antigens. Some are endogenous (e.g., histamine, interferon, transfer factor, tuftsin, interleukin-1). Their mode of action is either non-specific, resulting in increased immune responsiveness to a wide variety of antigens, or antigen-specific, i.e., affecting a restricted type of immune response to a narrow group of antigens. The therapeutic efficacy of many biological response modifiers is related to their antigen-specific immunoadjuvanticity. Vaccination analgesics (for specific indications)
    • Alpha-2 adrenergic agonists Adrenergic agonists Sympathomimetic drugs, also known as adrenergic agonists, mimic the action of the stimulators (î±, β, or dopamine receptors) of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system. Sympathomimetic drugs are classified based on the type of receptors the drugs act on (some agents act on several receptors but 1 is predominate). Sympathomimetic Drugs (e.g., clonidine Clonidine An imidazoline sympatholytic agent that stimulates alpha-2 adrenergic receptors and central imidazoline receptors. It is commonly used in the management of hypertension. Sympathomimetic Drugs, tizanidine Tizanidine Spasmolytics): support effect of opioids Opioids Opiates are drugs that are derived from the sap of the opium poppy. Opiates have been used since antiquity for the relief of acute severe pain. Opioids are synthetic opiates with properties that are substantially similar to those of opiates. Opioid Analgesics, allow for reduction of opioid Opioid Compounds with activity like opiate alkaloids, acting at opioid receptors. Properties include induction of analgesia or narcosis. Constipation dosages in acute postoperative pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, chronic pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, neuropathic pain Neuropathic pain Caused by lesion or disease affecting the nervous system (PNS or CNS). Pain: Types and Pathways
    • Anticonvulsants (e.g., gabapentin Gabapentin A cyclohexane-gamma-aminobutyric acid derivative that is used for the treatment of partial seizures; neuralgia; and restless legs syndrome. Second-Generation Anticonvulsant Drugs, phenytoin Phenytoin An anticonvulsant that is used to treat a wide variety of seizures. The mechanism of therapeutic action is not clear, although several cellular actions have been described including effects on ion channels, active transport, and general membrane stabilization. Phenytoin has been proposed for several other therapeutic uses, but its use has been limited by its many adverse effects and interactions with other drugs. First-Generation Anticonvulsant Drugs, carbamazepine Carbamazepine A dibenzazepine that acts as a sodium channel blocker. It is used as an anticonvulsant for the treatment of grand mal and psychomotor or focal seizures. It may also be used in the management of bipolar disorder, and has analgesic properties. First-Generation Anticonvulsant Drugs, pregabalin Pregabalin A gamma-aminobutyric acid (gaba) derivative that functions as a calcium channel blocker and is used as an anticonvulsant as well as an anti-anxiety agent. It is also used as an analgesic in the treatment of neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. Second-Generation Anticonvulsant Drugs): e.g., neuropathic pain Neuropathic pain Caused by lesion or disease affecting the nervous system (PNS or CNS). Pain: Types and Pathways (especially trigeminal neuralgia Trigeminal neuralgia Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is an often chronic and recurring pain syndrome involving the sensory distribution of the trigeminal nerve (cranial nerve (CN) V). The pain is typically unilateral and described as an acute, sharp, electric-shock-like pain involving the maxillary or mandibular areas and often associated with spasm of facial muscles. Trigeminal Neuralgia)
    • Beta-blockers Beta-blockers Drugs that bind to but do not activate beta-adrenergic receptors thereby blocking the actions of beta-adrenergic agonists. Adrenergic beta-antagonists are used for treatment of hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, angina pectoris, glaucoma, migraine headaches, and anxiety. Class 2 Antiarrhythmic Drugs (Beta Blockers) (metopropolol, propanolol, timolol Timolol A beta-adrenergic antagonist that is similar in action to propranolol; the levo-isomer is more active. Timolol has been proposed as an anti-hypertensive, anti-arrhythmic, anti-angina, and anti-glaucoma agent. It is also used in the treatment of migraine disorders and tremor. Class 2 Antiarrhythmic Drugs (Beta Blockers)): prevention of migraine Migraine Migraine headache is a primary headache disorder and is among the most prevalent disorders in the world. Migraine is characterized by episodic, moderate to severe headaches that may be associated with increased sensitivity to light and sound, as well as nausea and/or vomiting. Migraine Headache headaches
    • Bisphosphonates Bisphosphonates Bisphosphonates are pyrophosphate analogs most well-known for treating osteoporosis by preventing bone loss. Bisphosphonates end in the suffix “-dronate” or “-dronic acid” (e.g., alendronate, risedronate, pamidronate) and bind to hydroxyapatite crystals in bone, inhibiting osteoclast-induced bone resorption. Bisphosphonates: e.g., cancer-related bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, and is due to cartilage destruction and changes of the subchondral bone. The risk of developing this disorder increases with age, obesity, and repetitive joint use or trauma. Patients develop gradual joint pain, stiffness lasting < 30 minutes, and decreased range of motion. Osteoarthritis
    • Botulinum toxin Botulinum toxin Toxic proteins produced from the species Clostridium botulinum. The toxins are synthesized as a single peptide chain which is processed into a mature protein consisting of a heavy chain and light chain joined via a disulfide bond. The botulinum toxin light chain is a zinc-dependent protease which is released from the heavy chain upon endocytosis into presynaptic nerve endings. Once inside the cell the botulinum toxin light chain cleaves specific snare proteins which are essential for secretion of acetylcholine by synaptic vesicles. This inhibition of acetylcholine release results in muscular paralysis. Botulism: refractory chronic pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, especially trigeminal neuralgia Trigeminal neuralgia Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is an often chronic and recurring pain syndrome involving the sensory distribution of the trigeminal nerve (cranial nerve (CN) V). The pain is typically unilateral and described as an acute, sharp, electric-shock-like pain involving the maxillary or mandibular areas and often associated with spasm of facial muscles. Trigeminal Neuralgia, postherpetic neuralgia Postherpetic neuralgia Pain in nerves, frequently involving facial skin, resulting from the activation the latent varicella-zoster virus. The two forms of the condition preceding the pain are herpes zoster oticus; and herpes zoster ophthalmicus. Following the healing of the rashes and blisters, the pain sometimes persists. Herpes Zoster (Shingles), migraine Migraine Migraine headache is a primary headache disorder and is among the most prevalent disorders in the world. Migraine is characterized by episodic, moderate to severe headaches that may be associated with increased sensitivity to light and sound, as well as nausea and/or vomiting. Migraine Headache
    • Cannabis and cannabinoids Cannabinoids Cannabinoids are a class of compounds interacting with cannabinoid receptors. The 3 types of cannabinoids are phytocannabinoids (naturally derived from flora), endocannabinoids (endogenous), and synthetic cannabinoids (artificially produced). Cannabinoids (e.g., nabiximols, dronabinol Dronabinol A psychoactive compound extracted from the resin of cannabis sativa (marihuana, hashish). The isomer delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (thc) is considered the most active form, producing characteristic mood and perceptual changes associated with this compound. Cannabinoids, nabilone Nabilone Cannabinoids): e.g., cancer pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways
    • Corticosteroids Corticosteroids Chorioretinitis: e.g., neuropathic pain Neuropathic pain Caused by lesion or disease affecting the nervous system (PNS or CNS). Pain: Types and Pathways, bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess caused by increased intracranial pressure Increased Intracranial Pressure Normal intracranial pressure (ICP) is defined as < 15 mm Hg, whereas pathologically increased ICP is any pressure ≥ 20 mm Hg. Increased ICP may result from several etiologies, including trauma, intracranial hemorrhage, mass lesions, cerebral edema, increased CSF production, and decreased CSF absorption. Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP) 
    • N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors antagonists ( ketamine Ketamine A cyclohexanone derivative used for induction of anesthesia. Its mechanism of action is not well understood, but ketamine can block NMDA receptors (n-methyl-d-aspartate receptors) and may interact with sigma receptors. Intravenous Anesthetics): e.g., acute pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, perioperative pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways
    • Topical agents (e.g., lidocaine Lidocaine A local anesthetic and cardiac depressant used as an antiarrhythmic agent. Its actions are more intense and its effects more prolonged than those of procaine but its duration of action is shorter than that of bupivacaine or prilocaine. Local Anesthetics, capsaicin, diclofenac Diclofenac A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent (nsaid) with antipyretic and analgesic actions. It is primarily available as the sodium salt. Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) patch Patch Nonpalpable lesion > 1 cm in diameter Generalized and Localized Rashes, ketamine Ketamine A cyclohexanone derivative used for induction of anesthesia. Its mechanism of action is not well understood, but ketamine can block NMDA receptors (n-methyl-d-aspartate receptors) and may interact with sigma receptors. Intravenous Anesthetics cream, gabapentin Gabapentin A cyclohexane-gamma-aminobutyric acid derivative that is used for the treatment of partial seizures; neuralgia; and restless legs syndrome. Second-Generation Anticonvulsant Drugs cream): regional neuropathic pain Neuropathic pain Caused by lesion or disease affecting the nervous system (PNS or CNS). Pain: Types and Pathways

Approach to specific types of pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways

Nociceptive pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways
  • Ideal treatment: Remove underlying cause (initial analgesics should be administered in tandem with diagnostic tests Diagnostic tests Diagnostic tests are important aspects in making a diagnosis. Some of the most important epidemiological values of diagnostic tests include sensitivity and specificity, false positives and false negatives, positive and negative predictive values, likelihood ratios, and pre-test and post-test probabilities. Epidemiological Values of Diagnostic Tests).
  • Pharmacologic therapy follows the WHO 3-step approach involving non-opioid analgesics, mild opioids Opioids Opiates are drugs that are derived from the sap of the opium poppy. Opiates have been used since antiquity for the relief of acute severe pain. Opioids are synthetic opiates with properties that are substantially similar to those of opiates. Opioid Analgesics, and strong opioids Opioids Opiates are drugs that are derived from the sap of the opium poppy. Opiates have been used since antiquity for the relief of acute severe pain. Opioids are synthetic opiates with properties that are substantially similar to those of opiates. Opioid Analgesics, with or without adjuvants.
  • 1st step: non-opioid analgesics ( NSAIDs NSAIDS Primary vs Secondary Headaches, aspirin Aspirin The prototypical analgesic used in the treatment of mild to moderate pain. It has anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties and acts as an inhibitor of cyclooxygenase which results in the inhibition of the biosynthesis of prostaglandins. Aspirin also inhibits platelet aggregation and is used in the prevention of arterial and venous thrombosis. Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen Acetaminophen Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter nonopioid analgesic and antipyretic medication and the most commonly used analgesic worldwide. Despite the widespread use of acetaminophen, its mechanism of action is not entirely understood. Acetaminophen). Keep in mind the ceiling effect of non-opioids (no additional analgesic effect beyond a certain dose).
  • 2nd step: if non-opioid analgesics are insufficient → opioid Opioid Compounds with activity like opiate alkaloids, acting at opioid receptors. Properties include induction of analgesia or narcosis. Constipation analgesics
    • Non-opioid and opioid Opioid Compounds with activity like opiate alkaloids, acting at opioid receptors. Properties include induction of analgesia or narcosis. Constipation analgesics have additive effects and can be combined.
    • Must screen for risk of opioid Opioid Compounds with activity like opiate alkaloids, acting at opioid receptors. Properties include induction of analgesia or narcosis. Constipation use disorder
    • Long-term opioid Opioid Compounds with activity like opiate alkaloids, acting at opioid receptors. Properties include induction of analgesia or narcosis. Constipation use is reserved for cancer-related or end-of-life pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways.
    • In cases of extreme pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, patient-controlled analgesia Analgesia Methods of pain relief that may be used with or in place of analgesics. Anesthesiology: History and Basic Concepts is used.
  • In the case of chronic pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways, both emotional and organic factors should be assessed before initiating therapy.
  • Adjuvant Adjuvant Substances that augment, stimulate, activate, potentiate, or modulate the immune response at either the cellular or humoral level. The classical agents (freund’s adjuvant, bcg, corynebacterium parvum, et al.) contain bacterial antigens. Some are endogenous (e.g., histamine, interferon, transfer factor, tuftsin, interleukin-1). Their mode of action is either non-specific, resulting in increased immune responsiveness to a wide variety of antigens, or antigen-specific, i.e., affecting a restricted type of immune response to a narrow group of antigens. The therapeutic efficacy of many biological response modifiers is related to their antigen-specific immunoadjuvanticity. Vaccination therapy options other than traditional analgesics: antidepressants, anticonvulsants
Neuropathic pain Neuropathic pain Caused by lesion or disease affecting the nervous system (PNS or CNS). Pain: Types and Pathways If possible, identify and correct mechanical nerve compression Compression Blunt Chest Trauma via physical therapy Physical Therapy Becker Muscular Dystrophy and/or surgery.
First-line:
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Topical analgesic therapy (e.g., lidocaine Lidocaine A local anesthetic and cardiac depressant used as an antiarrhythmic agent. Its actions are more intense and its effects more prolonged than those of procaine but its duration of action is shorter than that of bupivacaine or prilocaine. Local Anesthetics, NSAIDs NSAIDS Primary vs Secondary Headaches, capsaicin)
Second-line:
  • Strong opioids Opioids Opiates are drugs that are derived from the sap of the opium poppy. Opiates have been used since antiquity for the relief of acute severe pain. Opioids are synthetic opiates with properties that are substantially similar to those of opiates. Opioid Analgesics
  • NMDA receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors antagonists (e.g., ketamine Ketamine A cyclohexanone derivative used for induction of anesthesia. Its mechanism of action is not well understood, but ketamine can block NMDA receptors (n-methyl-d-aspartate receptors) and may interact with sigma receptors. Intravenous Anesthetics)
  • Muscle relaxants (e.g., tizanidine Tizanidine Spasmolytics, baclofen Baclofen A gamma-aminobutyric acid derivative that is a specific agonist of gaba-b receptors. It is used in the treatment of muscle spasticity, especially that due to spinal cord injuries. Its therapeutic effects result from actions at spinal and supraspinal sites, generally the reduction of excitatory transmission. Spasmolytics)
Third-line:
  • Cannabinoids Cannabinoids Cannabinoids are a class of compounds interacting with cannabinoid receptors. The 3 types of cannabinoids are phytocannabinoids (naturally derived from flora), endocannabinoids (endogenous), and synthetic cannabinoids (artificially produced). Cannabinoids
  • Botulinum toxin Botulinum toxin Toxic proteins produced from the species Clostridium botulinum. The toxins are synthesized as a single peptide chain which is processed into a mature protein consisting of a heavy chain and light chain joined via a disulfide bond. The botulinum toxin light chain is a zinc-dependent protease which is released from the heavy chain upon endocytosis into presynaptic nerve endings. Once inside the cell the botulinum toxin light chain cleaves specific snare proteins which are essential for secretion of acetylcholine by synaptic vesicles. This inhibition of acetylcholine release results in muscular paralysis. Botulism
  • Intrathecal ziconotide
Fourth-line:
  • Electrical nerve stimulation
  • Sympathetic nerve blocks
  • Steroid injections
Non-pharmacological treatments To be used as a first-line measure or as an adjunct in multimodal pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways management:
  • Physical therapy Physical Therapy Becker Muscular Dystrophy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy Cognitive-behavioral therapy Cognitive-behavioral therapy corrects faulty assumptions and tries to replace maladaptive behavior with healthier alternatives. Psychotherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Heat Heat Inflammation and/or cold application
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Massages, positioning, and repositioning
  • Relaxation and mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Breathing techniques
  • Distraction, guided imagery, and/or biofeedback Biofeedback The therapy technique of providing the status of one’s own autonomic nervous system function (e.g., skin temperature, heartbeats, brain waves) as visual or auditory feedback in order to self-control related conditions (e.g., hypertension, migraine headaches). Psychotherapy
  • Music therapy
  • Occupational therapy Occupational Therapy Skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. It assists in the development of skills needed for independent living. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

References

  1. Dennis L. Kasper et. al. (2015). Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. Chapter 18: Pain: Pathophysiology and Management, Part 2: Cardinal Manifestations and Presentation of Diseases, Section 1: Pain, page 8795.
  2. David Tauben, MDBrett R Stacey, MD. Approach to the management of chronic non-cancer pain in adults. UpToDate. Retrieved September 9, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-the-management-of-chronic-non-cancer-pain-in-adults?search=overview-of-the-treatment-of-chronic-non-cancer-pain&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1
  3. Pratik Pandharipande, MD, MSCIStuart McGrane, MBChB. Pain control in the critically ill adult patient. UpToDate. Retrieved September 9, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/pain-control-in-the-critically-ill-adult-patient?search=pain%20management&source=search_result&selectedTitle=4~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=4
  4. Russell K Portenoy, MD, Zankhana Mehta, MD, Ebtesam Ahmed, PharmD, MS. Cancer pain management: General principles and risk management for patients receiving opioids. UpToDate. Retrieved September 9, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/cancer-pain-management-general-principles-and-risk-management-for-patients-receiving-opioids?search=pain%20management&source=search_result&selectedTitle=8~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=8
  5. UpToDate. Search: overview-of-the-treatment-of-chronic-non-cancer-pain. Retrieved September 9, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/evaluation-of-chronic-pain-in-adults?source=history_widget
  6. COUNCIL, I. (2001). Pain: Current Understanding of Assessment, Management, and Treatments. https://www.npcnow.org/system/files/research/download/Pain-Current-Understanding-of-Assessment-Management-and-Treatments.pdf
  7. Owen GT, Bruel BM, Schade CM, Eckmann MS, Hustak EC, Engle MP. Evidence-based pain medicine for primary care physicians. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2018;31(1):37-47. Published 2018 Jan 8. doi:10.1080/08998280.2017.1400290. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5903506/

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